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Museo storico della Liberazione - Roma

Erich Priebke

Erich Priebke, an SS captain, was Kappler's assistant at the Via Tasso prison. He spoke good Italian, learned in his youth, and he sometimes received family members of prisoners. In occupied Rome he acted firmly as a policeman and was part of the group that carried out the action against the GAP magazine, in which Gianfranco Mattei and Giorgio Labò were arrested. He helped to draw up the list of prisoners to be shot in the Fosse Ardeatine. After the liberation of Rome he worked in northern Italy as a liaison officer with the General Staff of the Republican Guard of the RSI, continuing to arrest, interrogate and torture partisans. After the war he managed to escape to Argentina, where he lived a quiet life until an American television crew found him. He was extradited to Italy in 1995, where he was tried for war crimes, accused of ”participating in numerous acts of violence and murder" in the Fosse Ardeatine massacre. In the 1996 trial he was found guilty, but could not be punished due to the statute of limitations. After a strong public reaction, the Court ordered a retrial in 1997. Having established the non-applicability of the statute of limitations to the offence committed and rejected the line of defence centring on obedience to superiors' orders, he was found guilty of ”multiple murder with premeditation", and sentenced to life imprisonment. In view of his age (he was 85 years old at the time), he was granted house arrest at his lawyer's home. He died in 2013 at the age of one hundred.